Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Continuing with my Monday adventures, after leaving the Kwik-E Mart i could only get onto 295 heading into DC -not the way i wanted to go, of course- so there were more adventures on side streets of DC trying to head north, which resulted in me passing a sign for Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. I have seen signs for this place for years, but have never stopped and figured, Why not? Turns out that this is a National Park (and National Park passport stamp location! man, i love collecting those stampees) established in 1938. The 12-acre sanctuary was started by Walter B. Shaw, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War, in the 1880s. Shaw had a fondness for water lilies, transplanting several species from Maine (where he was originally from) and hybriding his own collection. He and his daughter, Helen Fowler, developed various aquatic habitats and ran W.B. Shaw Lily Ponds privately until the US Army Corps of Engineers was going to dredge the Anacostia River, thereby destroying the wetlands. Luckily, the land was purchased by the Department of the Interior for $15,000 saving this cool collection for anyone who likes water plants, urban parks, or who might be completely lost on the side streets of Kenilworth. Laid out in a series of ponds, there were tropical and winter hardy species. Most of them had either passed or peak or are night blooming (apparently you should go before 11am to see those) However, the plants are still lovely and sheltered lots of wildlife, like birds, turtles (spot one in the next pic), dragonflies and a zillion different butterflies: There was a boardwalk trail leading through the bordering wetland habitats of remnant swamp, marsh and tidal mud flats: What was the most amazing to me were what looked like vast fields of pink and white lilies that were taller than me (not hard, but pretty impressive for flowers!) It turns out these are actually growing in ponds and aren't lilies. They are lotuses. They were in all stages of bloom: and some were gigantic This place was an unexpected surprise and certainly worth a visit if you find yourself aimlessly driving around the western border of DC!